UUFM wants to be your third place.
If home is the first place and work (or school for some of us!) is the second place, the third place is another place where you spend time and make connections with people, a place “where everyone knows your name,” as they say in the Cheers theme song. Our Director of Religious Education Sandy Nelson has been talking lately about the concept of a “third place,” and how that relates to building community in our fellowship and helping everyone feel part of us.
Of course, just as a church is not the building, but the people, a third place does not need to be confined to a literal single place or location. Many of our activities, of course, happen at the UUFM building – Sunday mornings, for example! Every month, though, there’s a Family Fun activity sponsored by religious education, often somewhere in the community. The first Friday of the month, some of our folks gather at Annie Mae’s for Beer and Theology. Some of our women gather twice a week on Monday and Thursday mornings for conversation at the West Loop McDonalds. I meet up with our Meadowlark residents (and anyone else interested) at Meadowlark once a month for a program, generally about our month’s theme. The Book Club and some of our Chalice Circles meet in people’s homes. And I regularly hold coffeehouse hours at various Radina’s around town.
Our connections also deepen when we encounter each other out in the community. For example, the Drag Story Hour that Little Apple Pride recently sponsored at the library included several of our families. Not only do we as adults need to recognize the connections we have with one another, but our children and youth may be especially grateful to run into other people they can feel confident share some of their values. That makes for a stronger sense of community and bonding.
As we enter a new school year, re-energized and re-engaged, help us think how UUFM can become more of a third place to more people. Here are a few ideas. It would be great to see the monthly K-State lunch restarted, and/or Game Night resurrected. Maybe people would like to see a movie or show or lecture together and go out for a meal or snack before or after. If there are ways you think of, talk with me and let’s see what we can get started. Often, all it takes is a volunteer to coordinate it.
Or maybe, it’s a matter of considering how you could connect with already existing groups – the Wednesday Men’s Lunch, the Women’s Coffee Group, the Book Club, Beer and Theology or one of the Chalice Circles. Whatever you’re interested in, we can help you make a deeper connection.
So, see you at UUFM … Or someplace else in the community!
In faith and freedom, Jonalu